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Pro Dive USA - PADI "Open Water Diver" Scuba Class
Pictures and a review of the PADI "Open Water Diver" Scuba course given at Pro Dive USA in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

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Tigertail Lake Park

Small Rental Sailboats

Scuba Diving Cage
In preparation for an upcoming trip to Fiji, I decided to finally get around to obtaining my scuba certification.

After comparison shopping online and asking friends for recommendations, I signed up to take the PADI "Open Water Diver" course at the Pro Dive USA scuba diving center.

The Pro Dive USA gear store and the "Pro Diver II"  dive boat are located at 429 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. The staff can be reached by phone at (954) 776-3483 or online at their website:

Pro Dive offers their students the choice of either a four day weekday course (Tuesday to Friday) or a two day weekend course. I opted to complete the academic portion of the class online using the PADI eLearning website and perform the series of dives over a weekend. I was also required to pass a quick quiz on the academic material at the dive shop.


Truck & Scuba Gear
Swimming Hall of Fame
Pool, Pro Shop & Museum
On Saturday morning, the first day of class, the weather was not cooperating and the rough ocean conditions precluded us from embarking on the Pro Diver II for the open water dives.

The instructors at Pro Dive USA seemed to have alternate options for just about any situation.

Myself and the only other student that weekend, were taken over to Tigertail Lake Park located a few minutes away from Fort Lauderdale in Dania Beach.

Tigertail Lake is a freshwater body adjacent to the Outdoor World and Bass Pro Shops retail complex.

Plenty of Free Parking
Pro Dive & Coconuts
Pro Diver II - Morning Trip
The instructor started off the day at Tigertail Lake Park by having us swim back and forth between two small docks (about 200 yards) to show that we were physically fit enough to continue.

There was no time limit for completing the swimming test.

Waterfront Condo Building
Coconuts Restaurant
Yachts Docked
Next we learned how to properly assemble and disassemble the BCD (buoyancy control device) vest, regulator, air tank and weight belt.

Then we practiced performing a buddy check on each other's equipment utilizing several humorous mnemonic devices to remember the acronym BWRAF.

The acronym stands for BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, and Fins/Face Mask.

Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal
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Hall of Fame Next Door
The rest of the day was spent practicing various scuba skills such as underwater face mask clearing, tired diver towing, free flowing regulator breathing, fin tip buoyancy pivoting, out of air simulation with alternate air source usage, proper "big stride" water entry method, and several others.

The "confined water" dives at Tigertail Lake were done in a caged enclosure between two docks.

We ventured out into the actual lake for the afternoon's "open water dives".

In between the dives, we took an hour lunch break together at a nearby sub sandwich shop.

Although the water at Tigertail lake was colder than the Atlantic Ocean, the two neoprene wetsuits kept me warm enough.

Another advantage of Tigertail Lake that I enjoyed was not having to taste salt water during the regulator swap or recovery exercises.

The visibility in the lake was five feet or less due to the particulate in the water.

I didn't mind since I was more concerned with completing my scuba certification than sightseeing.

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Pro Dive Rental BCD Vests
Rental Wetsuits
The weather on Sunday, the second and last day of class, was much better. We started off at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex behind the International Swimming Hall of Fame, which is a few steps away from the Pro Dive USA store.

The instructor had us once again practice proper assembly and disassembly of the equipment along with a buddy check.

Then he had us complete a "skin dive" by hyperventilating a few times and kicking our way down to the bottom of the 12 foot deep pool.

The rest of Sunday's confined water dives consisted of a mask removal exercise, neutral buoyancy practice, a few other scuba skills, and a brief "free time" session.

Rental Scuba Tanks
Ft Lauderdale Aquatic Complex
Olympic Size Pool
After the confined water dives at the Olympic size pool, we had a two hour lunch break.

There are a variety of restaurants within walking distance, so I'd recommend leaving your car parked.

The parking lot can become crowded in the early afternoon due to the popularity of the Coconuts Waterfront Dining restaurant attached to the Pro Dive USA store.

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Lifeguard On Duty
Wetsuit, BCD, Regulator
Pro Diver II Arriving
60 Foot / 18 Meter Boat
Custom Dive Vessel
At about two in the afternoon, the Pro Diver II boat returned to the dock from that morning's dive trip.

While the ship's crew unloaded the empty air tanks and other equipment, the instructor had us practice navigating the parking lot with the compass integrated into the regulator's instrument unit.

Cruise Ships
Waterfront Homes
Port Everglades
I'm prone to getting sea sick, so I took a motion sickness pill about an hour before we departed. I later learned from the instructor that a better method is to take one pill the night before and another an hour before the boat departs.

The water in the intracoastal was very calm compared to the 3-4 foot chop in the ocean.

I felt fine while the boat was moving and while submerged under the water.

I felt slightly nauseated on the boat while it was stopped and also when bobbing with my head above the surface.

The boat captain commented that many days of the year, the water is calm and smooth like a sheet of glass.

Unfortunately, my class mate vomited.

I narrowly avoided getting sick by keeping my eyes on the horizon, breathing fresh air through my nose, and keeping away from the rear of the boat any time the engines were running.

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Exit To Atlantic Ocean
17th St. Causeway Bridge
I captured a short video clip of our passage on the Pro Diver II from the Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal to the Atlantic Ocean. To view or "stream" the movie, click on the link below. To download the video, right click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save Link As". The video is encoded in the Windows Media (WMV) format, runs about 11 seconds long, and has a file size of about 3 MB.

Pro Diver II - Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal & Atlantic Ocean Video Clip

Oil Tanker
Condominium Towers
As you may have noticed, this page is lacking underwater pictures.

I decided against taking my underwater camera case with me so that I could instead focus on successfully completing the scuba certification course.

We had some "free time" during the first dive of the day where we swam around checking out the animal life at "The Caves" reef.

We saw a few interesting creatures that made me wish I had my camera including a colorful parrot fish and a dark grey eel peeking out of a sand hole.

Multi-Hull Sailboat
Speedboats & Condos
Fishermen On Jetties
After the first dive, the other student and I weren't feeling great but the instructor encouraged us to get back in the water for the last dive of the day.

I convinced myself that the motion sickness pill I took earlier was "kicking in", donned the scuba equipment, and jumped in to find relief from the waves under the water.

Fort Lauderdale Beach
Pro-Dive-USA-PADI-Scuba-Class-Ft-Lauderdale-FL-041 Pro-Dive-USA-PADI-Scuba-Class-Ft-Lauderdale-FL-042
Luxury Yacht
If I remember correctly, the instructor had us complete a mask removal and clear procedure, a hovering neutral buoyancy test, loiter under water for a few minutes to meet a time requirement, and then finally a "CESA" (controlled emergency swimming ascent).
Pro-Dive-USA-PADI-Scuba-Class-Ft-Lauderdale-FL-043 Pro-Dive-USA-PADI-Scuba-Class-Ft-Lauderdale-FL-044
Returning To Intracoastal
Princess Sarah Yacht

Once we were back on the surface, I tried to stay mostly under water while delaying getting back on the rocking boat as long as possible.

Climbing aboard the moving boat with a heavy air tank strapped to my back was easy enough since the staff member took our fins first and reminded us to lean back while ascending the ladder.

Red Sailboat
Yellow Water Taxi
Intracoastal Waterway

I was relieved when all of the other divers had returned to the boat and the captain began taking us back to the calmer waters of the intracoastal.

I'll be sure to never forget to take a motion sickness pill the night before and another the day of a dive.

17th Street Causeway
Pro-Dive-USA-PADI-Scuba-Class-Ft-Lauderdale-FL-050 Pro-Dive-USA-PADI-Scuba-Class-Ft-Lauderdale-FL-051
Oversea Yacht Insurance

Overall, I was extremely pleased with every aspect of getting my PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification with Pro Dive USA.

All of the staff members were friendly, helpful, patient and professional. I'd highly recommend learning to dive or going diving with Pro Dive USA to anyone living in or visiting the South Florida area.

Don't be fooled by lower PADI certification course costs at other dive shops which may not include most if any of the required equipment or the academic materials.

The rental prices of a BCD, tank, regulator, wetsuit, and weights can add up quickly over a two to four day course.

The total fee for the course at Pro Dive USA is $495 which already includes the $120 cost of the PADI eLearning and every piece of required scuba diving equipment.

The only items I had to bring were my fins, mask and snorkel.

To view pictures of the Pro Dive USA Scuba Gear Shop, click on the preceding link.

Mega Yacht
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Returning To Dock
For more of my related photo galleries, click on the following links: Pro Dive USA Scuba Store, Mai-Kai Fort Lauderdale, Bonnet House Gardens, New Times Original Beerfest, USS Toledo Nuclear Submarine Tour, Dig The Beach Volleyball, Seminole Hard Rock Halloween, Fort Lauderdale Home Design Show, Fort Lauderdale Beach, and the Fort Lauderdale Air & Sea Show.
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(Note: I am not a registered charity. Donations are not tax deductible.)

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